The famous honey of Attica, centuries of history with a modern twist

Thyme, savory, pine and aromas of garrigue and herbs: smells coming out of Attican honey, renowned throughout the centuries for its robust taste and healing properties.

Unraveling the thread of beekeeping in the area of Attica, someone would find out that this is a well-known activity, systematically practiced even before the 6th century BC, when Solon passed legislative measures on the distances between beekeeping sites, as reported in Plutarch’s “Life of Solon”.

A glance at its rich past

In ancient times, the honey of Attica was one of the most expensive products exported to the then known commercial world during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman years; consumed by the privileged rich or used as a medical treatment both by Hippocrates and Egyptian doctors, who even recommended it for eye conditions. Numerous fragments of beehives found at excavation sites all around Attica, or even within the city of Athens, witness that beekeeping was widespread in and out the urban fabric.

Why was Attica honey so much tasteful and craved? The answer lies in the climatic conditions and the quality of soil, which created a unique flora, rich in healing herbs. This is where bees would suck nectar, infusing their honey with aromas and outstanding taste. Actually, Hymettus mountain is where the most aromatic and therapeutic varieties were flourishing, with the properties and aromas of pine, arbutus, sage, thyme, savory, erica, oregano and other herbs and trees blooming in fresh air and the high altitude of the mountain.

At the foothills of Hymettus, the Monastery of Kaisariani, being well aware of the nutritional wealth of the mountain, set up one of the most well-structured beekeeping facilities during the 13th century AC, which kept operating amid the Ottoman rule years. In the 16th century, the Monastery of Penteli, on the same path, created a high-performing facility, with beehives deployed in vast areas it owned all along Attica. A part of its production actually had to be paid as a tax to the ottoman authorities and, in particular, to the sultan’s wife.

Apart from being consumed locally, honey was a top export product, offsetting the city’s needs in imports, like cereals.

The honey of Attica thriving in the present

In modern Attica, there are still beekeepers who strive to preserve this ancient practice and to sustain the reputation of local honey. According to current statistics, approximately 5,000 professional beekeepers are activated in Attica.

Delving into the realm of Attican honey, we can still taste the traditional varieties of thyme and pine honey, currently produced in rather small quantities, but always standing out for their unique, flavorful and aromatic properties.

Kythera, an island subordinated to Attica, is widely famous for its top-quality thyme honey. The Greek myth says that this heaven-on-earth was the birthplace of Aphrodite, also known as the bee goddess. The island produces one of the most aromatic honey varieties worldwide, distinct for its balmy scent of thyme and other native herbs reigning over the area. Despite its small-scale harvesting, kytherian honey has been awarded for its outstanding quality both in greek and international exhibitions.

According to recent research, it is not just by chance that honey is considered as a timeless treasure and medicine for humans: highly nutritious, beneficial and easily digestible, rich in enzymes, amino acids, mineral salts, vitamins and formic acid, known for its powerful antiseptic properties. As a part of a healthy diet, honey contributes to the preservation of wellbeing, whereas its medicinal use since ancient years is well-explained by its antimicrobial and therapeutic powers.

Honey can really help people with heart conditions, neurological and rheumatic disorders or adenopathy and can sooth wounds, burns, staphylococcus and fungal infections. Thyme-originating Attican honey, known for its invigorating and antiseptic qualities, is a true energy and power booster.

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